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Palaeontology and Stratigraphy

Paleontology is the scientific study of the history of life on our planet. The most important research objects are fossils, which, as elements of an extinct biosphere, provide very diverse clues:

  • they document the development from simple to complex biological structures (evolution),
  • give indications of radiations and crises (paleodiversity),
  • allow a temporal classification (biostratigraphy) due to their evolutionary development,
  • can give statements about their habitat through their adaptations to the environment (paleoecology),
  • indicate spatial relationships (paleogeography) or former land bridges or sea passages (biogeography) through their distribution pattern,
  • can contribute to the decoding of past climates (paleoclimatology)
  • and much more.

Paleontology is located at the intersection of biology and geology. Scientific findings in biological sciences are synthesized with the paleontological data according to the “Uniformitarian Principle” (motto: “the present is the key to understanding the past”). Paleontology connects the geological sciences with the fact that the (paleo)biosphere becomes part of the lithosphere through fossilization processes and is stored in this as a document of the earth's history.


Geobiology is an interdisciplinary research area that links the methodological research approaches of the geosciences with those of the biosciences in order to study cycles of material and energy flows between the biosphere and the litho-, hydro- and atmosphere. Its aim is to draw a holistic picture of the earth system and its spatial and temporal development.


Stratigraphy investigates the (relative) temporal sequence of rock bodies or their spatial relationship (correlation) on the basis of their organic and inorganic characteristics. Depending on the use of different time markers, a distinction is made between some of branches (e.g., lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, sequence stratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, etc.) which, especially when combined, enable a detailed resolution of the earth's history. With the help of stratigraphic data, causal-analytical geodata are placed in an earth-historical context (historical geology).

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